The Center for Choice, an abortion clinic in Toledo, Ohio, shut its doors last week after failing to obtain a transfer agreement with area hospitals. The abortion services provider, which had been open since 1983, is one of two in the Toledo area; the other, Capital Care Network, is expected to close after it loses its transfer agreement with the University of Toledo Medical Center come July. University of Toledo president Lloyd Jacobs withdrew negotiations for a transfer agreement with the facility in order to stay "neutral" on a "controversial issue."
“The three hospitals in the area are unwilling to support us. It really needs to be a bigger community support. I don’t want to blame anybody. We’ve never asked for much. We’ve kind of absorbed most of the abuse,” Sue Postal, Center for Choice owner and director, told the Toledo Blade.
And, as Jenny Brodie at Innovation Ohio notes, this scenario is likely to play out elsewhere in the state if lawmakers succeed in passing a budget laced with antiabortion provisions intended to block access to reproductive health care across Ohio:
HB 59 currently contains language that requires abortion clinics to have transfer agreements in place with local hospitals. The Senate took this language one step further and added language that would prohibit clinics from have a transfer agreement with any public hospital or from entering into a contract with any physician who has privileges at a public hospital. As we are seeing in Toledo, this language will have a real impact on women’s access to abortions in Ohio.
As Salon has previously reported, in addition to defunding Planned Parenthood and rape crisis centers, the budget approved by the Ohio Senate last week would also block transfer agreements between abortion clinics and public hospitals, forcing abortion providers to enter into transfer agreements with private hospitals -- which are often religiously affiliated and refuse to contract with abortion care providers -- or else shut their doors. Clinics enter into transfer agreements with hospitals to ensure their patients can receive emergency care if necessary, and cannot operate without them.
A House-Senate conference committee is expected to meet this week to finalize provisions of the budget -- including the antiabortion restrictions -- before sending it to Republican Gov. John Kasich to sign.